So, you've developed a product that you're passionate about. You've worked with the foremost testing labs in your market space to ensure the validity of your product and determine its market fit. You've partnered with an up-and-coming distribution channel that is enthusiastic about your product and eager to add value with front-side services. Now what?
The final piece of your Ideal Launch Scenario puzzle is connecting with the best possible marketing, advertising, public relations, and social media partners to ensure that your ideal launch scenario maximizes your potential for success. These are the partners that can make or break your product's visibility where it really matters — with the end user or customer.
Once you're confident in your product, it's time to get the word out. You can do it yourself or you can partner with experts. The question is which experts, which platforms, and when to deploy any and all of them.
What's the Difference?
As the age of social media continues to change the way we communicate in business, the distinction between marketing, advertising, and public relations has becoming increasingly blurry. There is a complex and interwoven relationship between all of these components, so it's important to break them down to the basics and isolate the core importance of each.
Marketing = The overall process of readying your product or service to enter the marketplace (and managing its ongoing engagement).
Marketing includes market research, product design, and package design on the front end of launch, as well as the ongoing communication to convince potential and current customers to buy. Marketing determines what your product will look like and where communication (e.g., ads, public relations, social media) should be placed for the best penetration of the target market.
Advertising = The process of making the marketplace aware that your product exists.
Advertising consists of the billboards, commercials, and magazine ads that put your product and brand in front of the consumers' consciousness. As Nancy Lovering of Demand Media writes on Chron,
"While marketing is the way in which you convince potential buyers that you have the right product for them, advertising is how you communicate to them the existence of that product."
Public Relations = The process of influencing your potential buyer through indirect methods.
This is a much more subtle process in your overall marketing strategy. In an article for Forbes, PR professional Robert Wynne makes this comparison: "Advertising is paid media, public relations is earned media." Put another way, advertising is buying a full-page ad for your product in the New York Times, while public relations is getting your product mentioned in an article or editorial in the New York Times. Wynne makes a strong case for the subliminal effectiveness of public relations, noting that it is 90 percent more effective than advertising. Effective public relations brings your product to the forefront of consumer consciousness with finesse, and builds trust in your brand and product through third-party validation.
Social Media = The process of engaging in a dialogue about your product/service online.
This is the newest and fastest growing way to reach your potential buyer. Social media marketing gained traction with the success of Facebook as a major social network. Now there is a seemingly unlimited number of platforms for social marketers, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, and many more. Social media marketing reaches consumers daily on their preferred platforms. It can quickly transform a product from unknown to ubiquitous through targeted ads and interactive content. The personalization of social networks, along with the access to reams of "big data" they can provide, has made social media a major force in today's digital marketplace.
Who Matters in this Space?
The overarching theme when choosing advertising, public relations, and/or social media partners as your way to reach your potential buyers is first, ask yourself "Who matters in this space?" That will help you know which providers have a proven track record in your part of the market and which ones can lend credibility to your brand and product. The reference points are different for each market segment, so consider how to best meet the demands of the market you are in, whether that is consumer products, B2B products and services, or heavy industrial products.
Many startups and early-stage companies don't have the budget to bring on a new team or partner to handle each of these aspects of their launch. Luckily for them, the question is the same whether you are looking for a firm to work on your behalf or doing the work yourself. You still need to consider whose opinion matters and how you can get their attention on your product.
Understand the Space
Cultural touchstones carry a lot of weight when it comes to making a splash with your product, so analyze the space that you are in and ask what kind of associations you want to build with your social media marketing. For instance, the platform you focus your social media efforts on will vary depending on the market demographic you are targeting. B2B products do better on LinkedIn and Google+ than on Tumblr and Pinterest, whereas consumer goods see the most benefit from doing the opposite. Facebook has such a wide user base that almost any product can find an audience there.
Similarly, your advertising dollars or public relations efforts must be targeted towards the publications that reach your ideal customer base. For consumer products, target the most popular magazines (since print coexists with digital media on their websites) that are reaching your demographic regularly. For heavy industrial products or B2B services, that means the respected trade journals that permeate your industry. Whether you're placing ads or contributing an editorial piece that highlights the problem your product is solving, the venue is just as important as the message.
Your Ideal Launch Scenario
Congrats! With this final piece of the puzzle in place, you've set yourself up to achieve your Ideal Launch Scenario! By "Beginning with the End in Mind" and giving careful consideration to the specific components of a successful launch and the unique needs of your product in your market space, you've built a solid foundation that gives your product everything it needs to reach its potential. Now buckle up and prepare for launch.
We hope you've enjoyed this series of posts on achieving your Ideal Launch Scenario. We'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Tweet us @EidsonPartners.